In this picture taken on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, Iraqi Security forces patrol in Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Al-Qaida-linked fighters and their allies seized control of the city of Fallujah and parts of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi last month after authorities dismantled a protest camp by Sunnis angry at what they consider second-class treatment by the Shiite-led government. The government and its tribal allies are besieging the rebel-held areas, with fighting reported daily. (AP Photo)
BAGHDAD — A new series of car bombings in and around Baghdad today killed at least 23 people, officials said, as Iraq’s Shiite-led government grapples with a stubborn Sunni extremist-led insurgency in the western Anbar province.
In the town of Mahmoudiya, a car bomb went off near the local council building, followed by another at a nearby outdoor market, a police officer said. The blasts in the town, located about 20 miles south of Baghdad, killed nine people and wounded 28.
In Baghdad, an explosives-laden car ripped through a commercial area in the northern Hurriyah neighborhood, killing four people and wounding 11, he added. Three bystanders were killed and nine were wounded in another car bomb explosion in the city’s eastern Baladiyat neighborhood, another police officer said.
Also, a sticky bomb attached to a minibus exploded in Baghdad’s Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, Killing one passenger and wounding four others, police said.
After nightfall, a car bomb went off near an out-door market in Baghdad’s Abdu Dashir district, killing six shoppers and wounding 14 others, they added.
Police also found four bodies dumped in the street of the capital’s southwestern Amil neighborhood. The four, three men and a woman, had suffered gun shots and had no ID cards.
Medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to media.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks but coordinated bombings bear the hallmarks of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq. The group, emboldened by the successes of its fellow militants in the civil war next door in Syria and by widespread Sunni anger at the Iraqi government, has taken credit for previous attacks against Shiites, security forces and government buildings.
Meanwhile, in Iraq’s western Anbar province, fierce fighting has been raging for over a month between government forces and allied tribal militiamen on one side, and al-Qaeda-linked militants on the other. Since late last month, the militants have seized parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi, and the city center of the nearby city of Fallujah.
Also today, a Defense Ministry statement said military operations overnight in Ramadi killed 57 militants. The statement didn’t say whether the militants were killed in clashes or airstrikes. In Fallujah, security forces are still besieging the city, with sporadic clashes taking place on its outskirts.
Violence has escalated in Iraq over the past year. Last year, the country saw the highest death toll since the worst of the country’s sectarian bloodletting began to subside in 2007, according to United Nations figures. The U.N. said violence killed 8,868 last year in Iraq.